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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In Kitty Ballou's Sanctuary Zoo by Cindy L. Shirley, Kitty Ballou had been a supporter of animal welfare since childhood. While other girls were playing with dolls, Kitty was rescuing abandoned and neglected animals. When her ambition to become a veterinary surgeon was achieved, Kitty wasted no time in venturing out West to her late grandparents' ranch to start her very own veterinary practice. While visiting a local fair, she stumbles across an abandoned trailer and makes a shocking discovery. Inside the trailer, she finds six of the most amazing creatures, including a striped donkey, a giraffe with a trunk and a peacock with a long neck. When the owner of the trailer fails to appear, Kitty decides to take the neglected animals home and bring them back to health. It is then she discovers that the animals have more surprises in store for her. Kitty has an ambitious plan for these beautiful and talented animals but she needs to convince the people of the community to help.
The characters in this endearing story are beautifully developed and each has its own distinct personality, including Kitty's beloved dog, Barney. Kitty is an excellent role model for any child; she is caring, strong, but modest. Her optimism to achieve her selfless ambition is admirable. The whole storyline is engaging and continually moves forward, which keeps the attention of the reader. There are some very comical moments in the story, especially the 'kick the bucket' game. The relationship between Barney and Kitty was especially warming. She describes him as her best friend, and I think any child who loves animals would relate to this. The descriptive narrative is excellent and takes you into the world of Kitty and her desperation to help these wonderful animals. This story not only highlights the importance of animal welfare but also is a reminder not to judge anyone that seems different. The clever plot highlights the fact that you should never judge an exterior appearance because everyone has unique talents. The information regarding animal welfare organizations and the endangered animal species at the end was a great addition to this wonderful, thought-provoking story.